A report by Pakistani media rights watchdog organisation Freedom Network revealed that at least 86 reported attacks against journalists and media practitioners took place in Pakistan from March 2021 to April 2022.
The report further states that the overall number of documented attacks against the media has gone down as compared to previous years. However, it said that the trend of targeting digital media based journalists is continuing, with state actors being the greatest threat to the safe practice of journalists in the country.
It said that during the government of the former prime minister Imran Khan, there was a dramatic increase in coercion which resulted in kidnappings, murders and legal battles.
The report also showed that no place in the country was safe from violations of press freedom, not even the capital Islamabad, nor Gilgit-Baltistan or Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Executive Director of Freedom Network, Iqbal Khattak said, “As the digital media landscape is the new horizon over Pakistan, the government is more than anxious to crack down on online freedom and digital journalists are systematic target of harassment, abuses and legal threats. We must protect our borderless Internet freedom.”
The report categorized and quantified the top three offenses against media personnel, which in order of most to least occurrences, were legal cases and offline harassment, illegal detentions, and murder attempts and verbal threats.
The report revealed that Islamabad was the riskiest place for journalists, with 32 out of the 86 cases originating there.
TV media appeared to be most at risk, followed by print media. There were no recorded instances of radio journalists being attacked.
Two of the four journalists killed were affiliated with digital media, and overall, 14% of the attacks targeted digital media.